Before Druw Jones had so much as played a professional game, there were considerable expectations that he would provide exemplary defense in center field, largely due to the 17 years that his father, Andruw, spent patrolling big league outfields.
And while Thursday night was merely Game 1 in the younger Jones’ baseball odyssey, one grab for Single-A Visalia is one incredible place to start.
Going back on a ball in the bottom of the fifth against the Padres’ Single-A Lake Elsinore affiliate, Jones had to begin on a dead sprint toward center field. As he reached top speed, his hat came flying off and he stuck out his glove, managing to corral the ball in the deepest crevices of the outfield before crashing into the wall.
If the high-fives and back slaps from teammates weren’t enough of an indication that Jones had just made an exemplary grab, Storm batter Griffin Doersching raised his helmet in the direction of MLB Pipeline's No. 13 overall prospect to congratulate him.
Being tagged as one of just five players across the Minors with a 70-grade field tool (on the 20-80 scouting scale) before having played so much as one pro inning was as good an indicator as any of the talent that many believed Jones possesses.
Arizona selected Jones with the second overall pick in the 2022 Draft, handing him the third-highest signing bonus in history ($8,189,400). But before he could go from high school phenom to pro wunderkind, he sustained a torn posterior labrum in his left shoulder during a batting practice session, which necessitated surgery and ended his summer early.
Back healthy, Jones – now the D-backs’ No. 2 prospect – finds himself entrenched at the top of the order for the Rawhide after getting a taste of big league action during the spring at just 19 years old. He even swatted his first (unofficial) hit at Chase Field, a potential precursor of things to come.